Frequently Asked Questions About Assessments

Frequently Asked Questions About Assessments

For immediate release:
February 29, 2024

Prince George County Property Owners,

In response to the concerns expressed at the Board of Supervisors meeting on February 27, 2024, the Assessor’s office has developed a list of frequently asked questions to clarify the assessment process.

If you have any questions about your assessment or need assistance with paperwork our office is ready and willing to help. Give us a call at (804) 722-8629.


Brian Gordineer, AAS
Real Estate Assessor

Frequently Asked Questions About Assessments

What is the reason for the varying ranges of increased values?
400 properties, representing 2.8% of the County, saw their value increase by more than 100%. Many of these increases occurred during the implementation of Vision when undocumented downward adjustments were removed from parcel assessments. Examples of undocumented downward adjustments were for sites that do not perc for septic systems, sites with environmental issues, and sites without access. For land to “perc” (percolate) means that it is capable of absorbing water at the proper rate to hold a septic tank. If the land does not absorb the water properly then the Health Department may deem the land not buildable. These adjustments were given in the past, but without documentation under the law, the Assessor’s office is not allowed to continue to authorize such adjustments. Residents are encouraged to provide the Real Estate Assessor’s office with the proper documentation for these adjustments in the property file.
For instance, in the Southern Estates Neighborhood in South Prince George, the prior evaluations were based on the incorrect assumption that the property was not a buildable lot. The property saw a 200% increase in value after a house was built on the land in 2022.
Another example involves a property near the James River. The documentation did not indicate that there was road access, however, upon discovery the property was found to have a deeded right-of-way easement which caused the value to increase by more than 100%. Access to a property significantly impacts its overall worth.
Why is a five-acre parcel valued at $80,000 when one just sold for $55,000 in the County?
Due to the statistical nature of assessments, some sales may exceed the assessed value while others may fall below. The statistical reality of a normally distributed bell-curve based on a 100% median assessment-sales ratio means that 50% of the sales will be below market value and 50% of the sales will be above market value.

The County Assessor’s office performed a county-wide land sales analysis and developed a rate schedule based on the sales County-wide. In 2022-23, five-acre lot sales in Prince George County ranged from $3,500 to $125,000. The data found that five-acre properties should be assessed at $80,000. All property transfers are available on the Assessor’s webpage.
Why is a five-acre parcel that does not perc valued at $80,000?
If a property owner can provide documentation from either the Health Department or a soil engineer that a parcel does not perc, the Assessor’s office will reduce the property value by 10%, or $8,000. This amount is the cost difference between a $20,000 alternative septic system and a $12,000 regular system.  Properties that are unable to support an alternative septic system will be assessed as non-developable.
Why did 700 properties see no change in value, while others were over-assessed due to mass assessments and a move away from individual assessments?
Each reassessment is conducted on an “assessment neighborhood” level, in accordance with mass appraisal standards put forth by the International Association of Assessing Officers, with the appraiser using assessment-sales ratios to determine if there should be an adjustment in property value. The Assessor’s office defines the assessment neighborhoods. The Constitution of Virginia, Article X, Section 2 mandates 100% fair market value, while the International Association of Assessing Officers recommends an acceptable range of 90%-110%.
The most recent state ratio study for 2022 found Prince George County to have an assessment-sales ratio of 85%, which is 15% under fair market value. Any reassessment having an assessment-to-sales ratio that is less than 100% results in the County receiving less education funding and public service tax revenue. 
To implement the rate/table-driven Vision Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal successfully, each parcel must be individually addressed to facilitate automation moving forward. This implementation of Vision is bringing consistency in assessments within each “assessment neighborhood.”
Data information is entered for each individual parcel and the Vision software computes the values for all the properties in the County. Vision software uses the same formula consistently within each “assessment neighborhood.” Therefore, if a citizen feels that his or her assessment is incorrect it is important for the citizen to contact the Assessor’s office to verify the accuracy of the data that was put into the system. Assessors conduct mass appraisals appraising properties en masse using statistical principles as opposed to fee appraisers who appraise single properties for purposes such as bank loans.
Why can’t the County go back to doing assessments the way it used to?
A prior Assessor selected and purchased the prior Vision software. Not only does state law require that the Assessor’s office assess properties at 100% of their value, but assessment values directly impact the amount of state and federal funding that is available to the County. The goal of the Assessor’s office is not to extract additional tax dollars from the citizens. The goal is to comply with the law and qualify for state and federal funding that the County is entitled to based on the mandated assessment level of 100% fair market value.
Why did a County-owned property decrease in land value when many properties saw an increase?
The County implemented a new computer system called Vision. Because it is a new system, it was anticipated that there might be  differences in values from the old system. The Vision system applies criteria in a more consistent manner. The assessment on County property is based on other similarly sized properties that are used for public purposes. There is no benefit to the County to lower the assessed value of the public-use properties, as they are tax-exempt by state law.
Why was the value of my 13-acre parcel, bought for $40,000 a year ago, assessed at $120,000 this year?
The parcel that was discussed during the Board of Supervisors meeting on February 27, 2024, is currently under review by the appraiser. A single sale seldom represents the entire real estate market.
Why don’t assessments equal 100% of fair market value?
Right now, the County is currently assessing at a rate of approximately 85%; the County should be within a range of 90%-110% as recommended by the International Association of Assessing Officers.
Why did my property see an increase after I removed a significant amount of timber?
To some extent, the Assessor’s office relies on property owners to inform them of changes to properties. The Assessor’s office does have a rotation schedule for visiting properties. In addition, the Assessor’s team utilizes the most current GIS aerial photography, which is currently from 2020. The Assessor’s Office gladly accepts property information updates from property owners because this allows for more accurate assessments.
If an appeal submitted after March 1 still receives an internal office review, why can’t the deadline be extended until after the March 6 Land Use Informational Meeting?
The Office Review and Board of Equalization deadlines have been set to facilitate state-mandated notification requirements set forth in the Virginia Code 58.1-3331. The deadlines also allow the Assessor’s office to review and update all assessment changes to ensure they are included in the Land Book for July 1.
Appeals submitted after March 1 will still be reviewed by the Assessor’s staff before being presented to the Board of Equalization. If an adjustment is warranted for a particular piece of property, it may save the property owner time and money in terms of not having to go before the Board of Equalization.
Property owners are encouraged to attend the March 6 meeting where the Assessor’s Office staff will be available to address questions and explain Land Use, assessments, and the appeal process. The Assessor’s office aims to be a positive force in the community, with a team of three appraisers managing over 14,000 parcels. If a property owner believes that his or her assessment is inaccurate, please reach out to the Assessor’s office for assistance. Appraisers will conduct thorough property visits to ensure accurate assessments.
Who can I contact to help me with the appeal paperwork?
Residents can reach out to the Real Estate Assessor’s office for help during regular business hours from Monday to Friday, 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM. In-person appointments can also be scheduled by calling 804-722-8639. The Assessor’s team is ready and available to support residents, offer clarification, and provide assistance.